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Tudor Minute April 29: RIP Thomas Cooper

Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for April 29. Today we mark the death of Thomas Cooper, an English bishop, lexicographer, theologian, and writer.

Cooper was born in Oxford, England, where he was educated at Magdalen College. He became Master of Magdalen College School and afterwards practiced as a physician in Oxford. Cooper's writing career began in 1548, when he compiled the Bibliotheca Eliotae, a Latin dictionary by Sir Thomas Elyot. In 1549 he published a continuation of Thomas Lanquet's Chronicle of the World. This work, known as Cooper's Chronicle, covers the period from AD 17 to the current time when it was written. In 1559 another writer, Robert Crowley, updated and changed the Chronicle, and Cooper then issued his own updated version in 1560 removing most of Crowley’s changes. In 1565 he published the first edition of his most famous work, the Thesaurus Linguae Romanae et Britannicae, and this was followed by three other editions.

John Aubrey in "Brief lives", gave the following glimpse into the creation of this dictionary: Dr. Edward Davenant told me that this learned man had a shrew to his wife, who was irreconcileably angrie with him for sitting-up late at night so, compileing his Dictionarie, (dedicated to Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester). When he had halfe-donne it, she had the opportunity to gett into his studie, tooke all his paines out in her lap, and threw it into the fire, and burnt it. Well, for all that, that good man had so great a zeale for the advancement of learning, that he began it again, and went through with it to that perfection that he hath left it to us, a most usefull worke.

A close inspection of Shakespeare’s word usage shows that he used Cooper's Thesaurus in the creation of his many poems and plays. That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com.